The writer of Hebrews knows his Old Testament well and uses passages from it to prove the superiority of Christ and His message to us and the world. In verse 5, he begins a commentary on Psalm 2:7 (ideas repeated by the way in 2 Samuel 7:14). He chooses verses that deal with Jesus’ superiority to angels. In verse 5, he writes, “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you?’ Or again, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son?’” It is not surprising to me that the quotes the writer uses in the first chapter of Hebrews are all from their songs. Kistemaker acknowledges this in his commentary; He gives the source of every quote: “indeed in his first chapter he avails himself of five passages from the Psalms and one from the Hymn of Moses (Deut. 32). The quotations are from Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14 in verse 5; Deuteronomy 32:43 (according to the readings in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint) in verse 6; Psalm 104:4 in verse 7; Psalm 45:6–7 in verses 8–9; Psalm 102:25–27 in verses 10–12; and Psalm 110:1 in verse 13.[1]

The writer of Hebrews wants us to grasp the reality of how the Old Testament is truly about Jesus! Everyone recognizes Psalm 2 as a song about Jesus or, in the case of the Jews, about the Messiah. Again, let me lean on a much better scholar than I to explain this truth. Kistemaker says, “The Jewish people understood Psalm 2 to be messianic, and their use of the psalm in the synagogue reflected that understanding. The individual writers of the New Testament also interpreted all the quotations and references from the second psalm messianically. For example, when Paul preached in Pisidian Antioch, he said, ‘What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: You are my Son; today I have become your Father’ (Acts 13:32–33). Quotations from Psalm 2 are given in Acts 4:25–26; 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5; Revelation 2:26–27; 19:15. Allusions to verses 2, 7, 8, and 9 can be discerned in Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, Hebrews, II Peter, and Revelation.

Visiting many churches over the years and having attended hundreds of chapel services as well, I’m often moved by how the music contains better theology than the messages. Whereas the messages, however, seem to stray from the person and work of Jesus into the need for submission, obedience, and commitment on the part of the listeners. We’re frequently exhorted to try harder, give more, serve more, study more, read more, do more, etc., etc., etc. But the music nearly always remains faithful to the message contained in the person and the work of Jesus. Pay attention to that yourself sometimes. The messages sound much more like that which the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day might preach and not what the writer of Hebrews is preaching about. But I must admit, much of the modern worship music is all about me and not about Jesus and his work on our behalf. Be careful of this kind of music. It detracts from worship and elevates the worshiper. There is some good modern Christian music, but I like the old hymns of the faith that have stood for decades. Some of them have lasted for over a century or two.  I agree with the blogger who writes, “Hymns, due to their length, often explore God’s character and our relationship with Him in great depth. Contemporary songs, on the other hand, often lack theological depth. This is not necessarily because they are inaccurate, but because they contain few words.”[2]

[1] Simon J. Kistemaker and William Hendriksen, Exposition of Hebrews, vol. 15, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 35–36.